In his 31 years, there have not been many Friday nights when the Decatur Eagles took the field without Nick Stokes on hand.
“I’ve seen a lot of Decatur games over the 25 years or so,” Stokes said. “Even in college, I made most of the games.”
Next fall, the Eagles will take the field without Stokes. The Decatur alum and defensive coordinator announced this week that he was headed to Frisco Independence High School to join Coach Kyle Story’s staff at the new school. He told his players Tuesday.
“It was tough. I wasn’t looking forward to it,” he admitted. “They invest so much into you and you do the same. It was very tough talking to them.
“Coach Story talked about faith, family and football in that order. This is good for my family and that comes [first].”
But Stokes, who attended Decatur schools from kindergarten through graduation and then returned to coach for eight years, is leaving essentially the only place he’s known.
“I’ve lived here my whole life,” Stokes said. “It was a scary decision when I talked about leaving. It took a lot of prayer. But we’re excited about Frisco, for sure.”
Stokes played on Story’s first two teams after he arrived in 1999. After graduating from DHS in 2001 and earning his degree from the University of North Texas, he returned to Decatur as an assistant freshman football coach.
He rose through the ranks to become the head junior varsity coach and then the varsity cornerbacks coach. He became the defensive coordinator two seasons ago.
For five seasons, he also coached the boys soccer team.
“Coach Story surprised me with that. I’d never been to a soccer game before coaching it,” Stokes admitted. “It turned out to be a good experience.”
Stokes guided the program to two playoff berths.
He is currently coaching the boys track team and will remain with the squad through the rest of the year.
No matter the sport, Stokes tried to keep the same approach with his athletes.
“I’ve learned that the most important thing is to let them know you love them and care about them,” Stokes said. “It’s not about winning or losing. It’s about impacting kids. That’s what’s great about coaching – being involved in kids’ lives.”
Now, those kids will be in Frisco as he trades in his blue for purple at Independence. But Stokes said part of him will always be in Decatur.
“I will always bleed blue and be an Eagle,” Stokes said.
- Decatur now has its new coach with Mike Fuller coming aboard and not a moment too soon. With several contributing seniors graduating, Fuller and his new staff will need to cover a lot of ground with players with limited varsity experience in a short amount of time
- Interesting note came from a visit with Fuller Thursday – this isn’t the first time he’s followed Kyle Story in a job. He also replaced Story as an offensive coach at Irving Mac-Arthur
- It was a great moment Tuesday for Nick Trachta. What American male who has ever stepped on the diamond hasn’t dreamed of a similar situation – last at-bat, walk-off home run? It was even more special because it was Trachta’s first home run
- In just his third meet, Decatur’s Paul Walker cleared 6-2 Thursday at the Double B Relays. Could be interesting to see what he can do next month
- By the end of the first game, my perfect NCAA tournament bracket was over. I had Ohio State over Dayton and going a few rounds
- My favorite tweet of the tournament so far came from The Austin American Statesman’s Kirk Bohls who pointed out that the Milwaukee paper had in its game story that Texas starts three freshmen, two sophomores and one junior
- Saturday will be the Grasslands Trail Run with the 50-miler, marathon and half marathon. I found pictures this week from the 2010 run I completed in the mud complete with bloody and muddy knees. It was a good reminder to why I stick with the roads now. Good luck to those running this weekend.